GE Renewable Energy and the Green Investment Group are teaming up to deliver a 650MW wind project in Sweden, having acquired what they claim will be one of the largest single-site onshore wind installations in Europe from renewables developer Svevind.
The Markbygden ETT wind farm in Northern Sweden is expected to begin commissioning during the second half of next year before entering into operation by the end of 2019, when it is set to increase the nation’s wind generation by more than 12.5 per cent, the projects two new owners said.
The 50-50 equity partners raised approximately €800m in total financing for the project and construction of the wind farm is already underway, with GE Renewable Energy supplying 179 3.6MW turbines with 137-metre rotors it says are “ideally suited to the project site’s wind speeds and climate”.
The blades are also being equipped with an ice mitigation system provided by blade specialist LM Wind Power, while GE has a 20-year full service agreement through its grid solutions business to provide the high voltage switchgear for the two planned substations at the wind farm.
Pete McCabe, president and CEO of GE’s Onshore Wind Business, said the firm was “excited to have been chosen by Svevind to contribute to this massive project”.
“Markbygden ETT marks our commitment to the Swedish onshore wind arena and extends our presence in Europe while showcasing our technical capabilities – with LM Wind Power – and project development and management differentiators,” he said.
GE has acquired the project alongside the Green Investment Group (GIG) from Svevind, with the two investing more than €300m in equity to finance the project.
The transaction is GIG’s first outside the UK, and its first equity investment since its acquisition by Macquarie earlier this year. GIG was formerly known as the Green Investment Bank (GIB) until it was controversially sold by the UK government to the Australian bank.
It also comes just days after the announcement from UK Climate Investments, which is part of the GIG, that it has teamed up with UK developer Lightsource Renewable Energy to fund the development, acquisition, and ownership of large scale solar projects in India.
Edward Northam, head of the GIG in Europe, said the Markbygden project was a “a landmark transaction on many fronts and represents the new frontier in European onshore wind”.
“It demonstrates that in the right market, with the right location, the right technology and the right partners, it is possible to develop and attract private capital into new onshore wind farms,” he said.
Advisory teams sought a mix of funding for the project, with close to €500m in debt financing secured from: the European Investment Bank; export credit guarantees from the German federal government; NordLB; KfW IPEX-Bank; and HSH Nordbank.
A 19-year fixed volume Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) has been agreed with a subsidiary of aluminium producer Norsk Hydro to buy electricity from the project in order to power its Norwegian manufacturing facilities, in what is thought to be one of the largest corporate wind energy PPAs in the world.
Wolfgang Kropp, CEO of Svevind, said the company had worked on the development of the Markbygden cluster of wind farm projects since 2002. “We look forward to seeing this project, and future projects around Markbygden, constructed and contributing to the much-needed fight against climate change,” he said.